(Al Jazeera) The 2023 Asian Cup football tournament will be held in Qatar, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has announced after China withdrew earlier this year because of its “zero-COVID” policy.
The Asian Cup is held every four years. Qatar won the tournament’s last edition, which was hosted by the United Arab Emirates in 2019.
This is the third time Qatar will be hosting the tournament, having staged it in 1988 and 2011.
In June 2019, China was named host for the 2023 event but they withdrew in May this year, leaving the AFC scrambling to find a new host for its flagship men’s 24-team football tournament.
South Korea and Indonesia were the two other countries in the running after China’s withdrawal, but Qatar got the nod on Monday.
Qatar will be hosting the 2022 World Cup, which kicks off on November 20. The World Cup, usually held in the northern hemisphere’s summer, was moved to November and December because of the extreme heat in Qatar during June and July.
The Gulf country has built seven new stadiums and upgraded another around the capital Doha to host the 32-team World Cup.
No dates have been announced yet for the 2023 Asian Cup by the AFC.
AFC chief Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa hailed Qatar’s “world-class infrastructure and unrivalled hosting capabilities” and said Qatar is ready to put on the event despite the short lead time to prepare.
“Given the short lead time in preparation, we know that the hard work begins immediately but with their existing world-class infrastructure and unrivalled hosting capabilities, we are confident that Qatar will stage a worthy spectacle befitting the prestige and stature of Asia’s crown jewel,” he said in a statement.